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Showing leadership through development work

Rt Hon Winston Peters
Minister of Foreign Affairs

Embargoed until 12.15pm, 25 November 2006
Speech Notes

Showing leadership through development work

Address to the Rotary International conference
Waipuna Lodge, Auckland

Thank you for the opportunity to speak here today.

The theme of this conference is leadership – a term that is often difficult to define because it can mean many things to different people.
At its best, leadership is about motivating people to put their values into action. Rotary has been doing this for many years.
Rotary clubs throughout New Zealand play an important role in raising public awareness about the needs of developing countries around the world.

Rotary takes a practical, grassroots approach to addressing these needs.

It is a fact that poverty results in a terrible waste of human potential. It results in countries being unable to sustain themselves in the face of natural disasters, the devastation brought about by diseases such as HIV/Aids, malaria and tuberculosis, and the massive flows of refugees and migrants seeking better opportunities elsewhere.

Poverty leads to conflict and instability, and it can place severe pressure on the environment, as people strip the land and waters around them in their struggle to feed themselves or make a living.

Unfortunately these manifestations of poverty are visible in the Pacific – our neighbourhood.

Poverty can be seen in the squatter settlements in Fiji; the lack of opportunities in small remote islands, and the grim educational and health statistics in Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu.

The agency responsible for delivering the New Zealand government's aid and development programmes is NZAID.

NZAID's core mandate is the elimination of poverty through sustainable development, and to do this it works in partnership with NGOs, the governments of developing countries, and a range of United Nations organisations.

The primary focus of NZAID's work is in the Pacific, where we have our strongest relationships as well as the capacity to deliver effective programmes. We also have a substantial focus in South East Asia, where we have a proven track record in providing effective assistance.

In total, NZAID manages 18 country-specific, or bilateral, programmes. Eleven of these are in the Pacific; six are in Asia, and one is in South Africa.

The focus of each of these programmes is guided by a strategy developed and agreed jointly with the partner government.

For example, in Fiji the focus is housing needs; in Solomon Islands it is basic education and rural infrastructure. In Papua New Guinea it is health. In Indonesia it is basic education and rural livelihoods, and in Cambodia and Laos it is tourism that will benefit those who are genuinely poor.

NZAID also manages regional programmes in the Pacific and South East Asia. These involve clusters of countries working on common issues such as trade promotion, human resource development, and HIV/Aids.

New Zealand's development work is guided by what is known as aid effectiveness principles. This means we align ourselves with the priorities of partner governments; we coordinate with other donors, and we focus on results.

For example, NZAID’s single biggest bilateral programme is in Solomon Islands, where we have made a 10-year commitment to help the Solomon Islands Ministry of Education get basic education back on its feet.

We are the lead donor, but not the only country interested in helping rebuild the Solomons' education system.

However instead of other donors picking up projects here and there, we have forged a coordinated approach that funds projects across the whole education sector – classrooms, trained teachers, a national curriculum, classroom resources, and so on.

Already we are seeing results through significant improvements in attendance at schools, a greater availability of trained teachers, and more teaching materials in classroom.

The government's desire to work with others to achieve our development goals also extends to Non Government Organisations, and NZAID places high priority on engaging with, and financially supporting the NGO community.

NGOs have become major players in international development, and governments all over the world are recognising the unique role they play.

NZAID has formalised its commitment to NGOs through a policy framework that sets out guiding principles and practices for interaction, and formalises a commitment to respect the independence of NGOs.

We don't want NGOs to become like government departments – this would stifle the innovative role they play. However there has to be accountability to ensure that the government gets value for money from the funding we provide.

In 2005/06, $44 million – around 14 per cent of NZAID's budget – went to NGOs in New Zealand and overseas. That level of funding has significantly increased in recent years through the Voluntary Agencies Support Scheme – now known as the KOHA Fund – and the Humanitarian Action Fund.

In fact funding increases for KOHA and the Humanitarian Action Fund has exceeded the overall growth of NZAID's budget recently, and greater increases in support for New Zealand-based NGOs has been identified as a priority in NZAID's Statement of Intent 2006-2009.

Government funding has supported numerous Rotary project over the years, including tsunami recovery work, polio eradication, and grassroots projects in Africa and the Pacific.

Rotary has received in excess of $2.5 million from the government over the past four years, and on top of that NZAID has given $2 million directly to the United Nations to support the combined Rotary, World Health Organisation and UNICEF polio campaign.

My understanding is that Rotary has expressed interest in increasing its engagement with the KOHA Fund and possibly becoming a block grant agency under the scheme. We would encourage Rotary in this, while noting that block grant status makes demands on those that take it up.

This status is provided to agencies with a strong track record of successful reporting on their projects. It requires consistent application of the community development approach at the core of the scheme.

Community development practice requires careful creation of genuine partnerships with local communities so that locals are driving the processes for change.

For example, community members need to be involved in planning, monitoring and evaluating projects.

If expatriates are involved, it should be for limited periods and specified purposes, because the KOHA Fund is designed to promote community action and self-reliance, rather than the passive acceptance of welfare assistance.

Agencies receiving funds from KOHA funds are reviewed from time to time. It is Rotary’s turn this year and that review is underway – including visits to the Tenguru Village Women’s Market and Educational Facility, and the Meru Dairy Women's Farmers Association in Tanzania.

The Tenguru market project involves 300 or so farmers, and aims to provide clean water, sanitation and shelter at the local market where women sell produce.

It will see food sold from tables rather than the ground, and education will be provided on family planning and prevention of disease.

This is aid where it is really needed.

Rotary is a unique organisation. Its strength is in building relationships between clubs and individuals all over the world, and its ability to get members working cooperatively on projects of immense value to local communities in developing countries.

The new tuberculosis isolation ward at Port Vila Central Hospital in Vanuatu is one example close to home. This project has involved a large number of Rotarians from New Zealand and Vanuatu, and a contribution of $67,000 from NZAID.

Apart from the obvious public health benefits of the new ward in a country where cases of TB are increasing rapidly, the project has brought many other benefits.

A number of locals received training while they helped build the ward, while students and teachers from the Vanuatu Institute of Technology have also used it as a training opportunity.

Two locals who worked on the project as volunteers are now being sponsored by Rotary to undertake training at the Institute.

In Fiji, a housing project for squatter resettlement initiated by Rotary is providing shelter for displaced cane farmers and labourers' families. Teams of Rotary volunteers have helped build houses, roads and other community facilities for people who used to live in shacks.

This project was initiated by Rotary and now involves funding from NZAID, support from the Fiji Ministry of Local Government, and social services support from other local NGOs.

That is leadership on the ground.

It is clear that Rotary is an organisation that believes in leadership through action. This is to be commended and encouraged. Rotary continues to make a real difference were it counts, and many lives are improved through your efforts.

The government looks forward to continuing our longstanding and valuable partnership. Together we can help make our neighbourhood and beyond a better place.


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